How can Asia lead the liberal world order? | Danny Quah-en

The most enduring values of liberal democracy are simply those that get schoolchildren through sports day: There is a level playing-field; no one is excluded from playing and everyone gets a fair shot. The rules are transparent, and cannot be changed mid-contest. Afterwards, there are winners and losers, and that’s OK. Compete fiercely to win, but those who don’t succeed need to wish the winners well, and to exit on friendly terms. Winners should behave with good grace, and not bully or display arrogance.Everyone shares these values, whether you’re in Asia or in the West (or perhaps more accurately, those pockets of human society that don’t follow these rules? You find them both in Asia and in the West.)For Asia to lead, it has to have a story. What form that narrative takes remains work in progress: Asia’s intellectuals need still to forge that vision. In some circumstances, networks can usefully replace multilateral agreements. In many situations, a duties-based social understanding can perfectly well substitute for a rights-based one. Openness and transparency work well for social benefit, but only up to a degree. Reverence for learning and scholarship is far from a Western monopoly. And that old fetishism, that for creativity one needs the space to rebel, flies in the face of all manner of disciplined scientific investigation that have lead to profoundly significant discoveries. When Thomas Alva Edison perfected the modern light bulb, he was not wearing cut-off jeans and chewing bubble gum.But certain other things need to be excluded right away from Asia’s narrative. When Trump and those around him display xenophobia, racism, anti-Islamic policies, nationalist populism, and an extreme zero-sum mentality, Asia needs to NOT say, we see no problem with that. When Trump undermines the free press and subverts America’s democratic institutions or America’s judiciary, Asia can NOT say, we are OK with Trump and his people doing those things; we have the same problems here. Asia must NOT say, let’s focus on Trump’s business acumen and deal-making instincts – for that too is what we know best and like most.

Source: How can Asia lead the liberal world order? | DQ-en